Retiring Arizona Prison Watch...

This site was originally started in July 2009 as an independent endeavor to monitor conditions in Arizona's criminal justice system, as well as offer some critical analysis of the prison industrial complex from a prison abolitionist/anarchist's perspective. It was begun in the aftermath of the death of Marcia Powell, a 48 year old AZ state prisoner who was left in an outdoor cage in the desert sun for over four hours while on a 10-minute suicide watch. That was at ASPC-Perryville, in Goodyear, AZ, in May 2009.

Marcia, a seriously mentally ill woman with a meth habit sentenced to the minimum mandatory 27 months in prison for prostitution was already deemed by society as disposable. She was therefore easily ignored by numerous prison officers as she pleaded for water and relief from the sun for four hours. She was ultimately found collapsed in her own feces, with second degree burns on her body, her organs failing, and her body exceeding the 108 degrees the thermometer would record. 16 officers and staff were disciplined for her death, but no one was ever prosecuted for her homicide. Her story is here.

Marcia's death and this blog compelled me to work for the next 5 1/2 years to document and challenge the prison industrial complex in AZ, most specifically as manifested in the Arizona Department of Corrections. I corresponded with over 1,000 prisoners in that time, as well as many of their loved ones, offering all what resources I could find for fighting the AZ DOC themselves - most regarding their health or matters of personal safety.

I also began to work with the survivors of prison violence, as I often heard from the loved ones of the dead, and learned their stories. During that time I memorialized the Ghosts of Jan Brewer - state prisoners under her regime who were lost to neglect, suicide or violence - across the city's sidewalks in large chalk murals. Some of that art is here.

In November 2014 I left Phoenix abruptly to care for my family. By early 2015 I was no longer keeping up this blog site, save occasional posts about a young prisoner in solitary confinement in Arpaio's jail, Jessie B.

I'm deeply grateful to the prisoners who educated, confided in, and encouraged me throughout the years I did this work. My life has been made all the more rich and meaningful by their engagement.

I've linked to some posts about advocating for state prisoner health and safety to the right, as well as other resources for families and friends. If you are in need of additional assistance fighting the prison industrial complex in Arizona - or if you care to offer some aid to the cause - please contact the Phoenix Anarchist Black Cross at PO Box 7241 / Tempe, AZ 85281.

until all are free -

MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)


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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jail Re-entry: Elected Official's Tool-kit.

LinkFrom the Urban Institute. They aren't abolitionists, but they do interesting research. It would be wise for some of our local politicians and policy-makers to download this manual and re-think their approach to criminal justice in Arizona...


The Elected Official's Toolkit for Jail Reentry

The text below is an excerpt from the complete document.
Read the entire report in PDF format.


Every year, millions of people are released from incarceration, and the vast majority—about 9 million individuals—exit from local jails. Within this population, recidivism rates are high, resulting in a damaging cycle of incarceration, release, and reincarceration. Recidivism harms local communities and places a tremendous burden on local governments trying to maintain public safety and manage costs.

Local governments spent an estimated $109 billion on criminal justice in 2006, a 17 percent increase over the 2003 level and 138 percent more than was spent on criminal justice functions in 1992. These criminal justice expenditures reflect in part the cost of failing to reintegrate individuals returning from our nation's prisons and jails. Many released inmates face serious problems that contribute to the commission of new crimes, including drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness, unemployment, and homelessness. Neglecting these issues not only raises criminal justice costs but increases the demand for social services, such as homeless shelter beds and emergency rooms. It also carries social costs that are difficult to quantify, including harm to victims, strain on communities, and hardships imposed on the families and social networks of released inmates.

Focusing on jail reentry is an opportunity for local governments to reduce recidivism and associated costs. Jail reentry initiatives encourage jails, social service providers, and other agencies to work together to identify and address factors that increase the risk that inmates will recidivate. Jail reentry initiatives also focus on changing the behavior of returning inmates and promoting accountability. Such initiatives help local communities strategically deploy limited resources to reduce harm and maximize community benefit.

Local elected officials play a vital role in jail reentry initiatives by bringing diverse stakeholders together in a shared effort with a common mission and vision. Local governments are wellpositioned to coordinate the reentry process. Not only do they operate law enforcement and jails, they run health and human services, housing authorities, workforce development boards, and local schools, which are key partners in any comprehensive reentry effort. Elected officials also have standing with community service providers and faith-based organizations that already provide many of the social services urgently needed by those leaving jail.

Jail reentry initiatives offer numerous benefits for communities in addition to improving outcomes for individual inmates. Jail reentry initiatives have the potential to reduce crime; affect community problems, such as homelessness; and increase public health, safety, and well-being. Reentry initiatives can also improve system performance by increasing coordination and information-sharing among criminal justice agencies, community- based organizations, and other groups. This can reduce duplication of efforts and enhance the impact of existing resources. Taxpayers ultimately reap the benefits of smaller jail populations, reduced need for new jail facilities, and lower costs across the criminal justice system.

Jail reentry initiatives have found support from a broad array of stakeholders, including law enforcement, corrections, social service providers, the faith community, and victims' groups. These groups increasingly recognize their role in the reentry process and are looking to elected officials for support and leadership. Jail reentry initiatives supported by elected officials bring these groups to the table and encourage them to work together to develop effective interventions. By spearheading a cooperative reentry effort, elected officials foster shared responsibility and ensure a common approach to addressing this problem.

This toolkit is designed to help elected officials meet the challenges of addressing jail reentry in their communities. It provides information and tools to improve the jail-to-community reentry process, whether that involves implementing a jail reentry initiative for the first time or expanding an existing initiative.

It is important to note that the toolkit is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to developing a reentry initiative. While we have sought to include the most significant information for elected officials who want to get involved in jail reentry, the reader should treat the toolkit as a starting point rather than a final destination. To this end, we have included a short directory of more extensive and in-depth resources that address the process of implementing a jail reentry initiative as well as specific needs of returning inmates. Many helpful reentry resources covering a wide range of topics are easily accessible online. We encourage readers to access these resources for more information about the topics introduced here, as well as for detailed guidance on the particular challenges their communities may face.

End of excerpt. The entire report is available in PDF format.

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